On Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023, Chief Superior Court Judge Clayton Tomlinson sentenced Lebray Berrien, 34, of Adel to life in prison for felony murder.
Berrien gave a blind guilty plea (basically throwing himself at the mercy of the court) in connection with the December 2020 death of Tenesha Mordon, 41, of Valdosta, according to Superior Court records.
On Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Adel Police Department arrested Berrien for the murder.
On that date, the GBI’s Douglas Regional Office was requested by the Adel Police Department to assist with a death investigation. At approximately 4 p.m. on Dec. 19, 2020, Adel Police responded to 1113 Birch St., Adel, in reference to a 911 call about a body found in a wooded area.
Upon officers’ arrival, they found Tenesha Mordon deceased from apparent gunshot wounds. Ms. Mordon’s body was transported to the GBI Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy.
Berrien shot Ms. Mordon multiple times with a 9 mm handgun earlier that afternoon at the Birch Street address, resulting in her death, according to the indictment and GBI warrants.
On that evening, the Adel Fire Department provided portable lighting for the homicide investigation at two locations until released by Adel Police and the GBI.
Local residents expressed shock on social media at Berrien’s arrest for the murder; he interacted often with the public as a cook.
Many expressed sympathy on social media to Ms. Mordon’s family for having lost her so close to what is supposed to be the joyous time of Christmas.
According to court records, Berrien was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole, with credit for time already served since his arrest. The State noted Berrien’s previous convictions for criminal trespass and terroristic threats; battery/family violence and cruelty to children; and criminal attempt to commit burglary.
Due to Berrien’s plea to felony murder, the State nolle prossed, or dropped, charges of malice murder, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
District Attorney Chase Studstill and the Alapaha Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office prosecuted the case. The Public Defender’s Office represented Lebray Berrien in court.
Other cases resolved last week in Superior Court (the District Attorney’s Office prosecuted the cases):
• Quintin Lamar Inman, 32, of Sparks pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine and obstruction of an officer. Judge Tomlinson sentenced Inman to three years’ felony confinement, with credit for time served since July 12, 2021.
The Adel Police Department brought the case. Court records state that at about 12:32 a.m. that date on South MLK Drive, Adel, Inman fled on a bike from an officer, and then fled on foot. Officers found meth in Inman’s possession.
The judge also ordered a total sentence of eight years for Inman after the defendant pleaded guilty to felony obstruction of an officer, two counts. The court recommended the defendant for Transitional Center placement, with credit for time already served.
According to court records, on Oct. 4, 2021, at the Cook County Jail, Inman hit a jail officer in the face and spat in another jail officer’s face.
The Public Defender’s Office represented Inman.
• Billy Jack Griffin, 31, of Adel or Nashville pleaded guilty to aggravated stalking/family violence. Judge Tomlinson sentenced Griffin to three years in prison, followed by seven years’ probation.
The judge also ordered Griffin to: Pay a $5,000 fine; perform 280 hours of community service work; have no contact with the victim; be barred from the Alapaha Judicial Circuit, including Cook County (suspended upon strict compliance with probation conditions); comply with a Permanent Protective Order; and undergo a mental health evaluation.
The Cook County Sheriff’s Office brought the case. According to court records, Griffin violated a permanent injunction as part of probation filed in South Carolina on Feb. 17, 2017, by having contact with a woman. Griffin contacted the victim at work by mail for the purpose of harassment and intimidation.
The Public Defender’s Office represented Griffin.
• Jamarkel Arekell Scruggs, 28, of Adel pleaded guilty to battery/family violence – felony (a simple battery, family violence, charge was merged with that count). Judge Tomlinson sentenced Scruggs to two years’ felony confinement.
The Adel Police Department brought the case. According to court records, on May 1, 2022, at a South Pine Street address, Scruggs punched a woman in the face. Scruggs had been previously convicted of family violence offenses on May 27, 2015, and Jan. 16, 2019, in Cook County Superior Court.
The Public Defender’s Office represented Scruggs. (The State nolle prossed, or dropped, three counts of cruelty to children, third degree, upon Scruggs’ guilty plea to the felony charge.)